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The Absolute Best Italian Pasta Salad for Summer Picnics

America's Test Kitchen

You won't regret adding this Italian Pasta Salad from America's Test Kitchen to your Fourth of July celebration or any summer picnic.

Italian Pasta Salad
by America's Test Kitchen

1 pound fusilli
Salt and pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 anchovy filets, rinsed, patted dry, and minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup pepperoncini, stemmed, plus 2 tablespoons brine
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
2 ounces (2 cups) baby arugula
1 cup chopped fresh basil
½ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced thin
½ cup pitted kalamata olives, quartered
8 ounces salami, cut into ⅜-inch dice
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into ⅜-inch dice and patted dry

Before You Begin
The pasta firms as it cools, so overcooking is key to ensuring the proper texture. We prefer a small, individually packaged, dry Italian-style salami such as Genoa or soppressata, but unsliced deli salami can be used. If the salad is not being eaten right away, don't add the arugula and basil until right before serving.

1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until pasta is tender throughout, 2 to 3 minutes past al dente. Drain pasta and rinse under cold water until chilled. Drain well and transfer to large bowl.

2. Meanwhile, combine oil, garlic, anchovies, and pepper flakes in liquid measuring cup. Cover and microwave until bubbling and fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Set aside.

3. Slice half of pepperoncini into thin rings and set aside. Transfer remaining pepperoncini to food processor. Add capers and pulse until finely chopped, 8 to 10 pulses, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add pepperoncini brine and warm oil mixture and process until combined, about 20 seconds.

4. Add dressing to pasta and toss to combine. Add arugula, basil, tomatoes, olives, salami, mozzarella, and reserved pepperoncini and toss well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve. (Salad can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Let come to room temperature before serving.)

Additional Content:

Dan Souza, Chief Content Officer from America's Test Kitchen walks NPR host A Martinez through preparing this recipe. Listen Now.